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First Ladies want action

From Trinidad Express


The First Ladies and Spouses of Caribbean Community (Caricom) leaders are urging support for their initiative which focuses on the reduction of teenage pregnancy, cervical cancer, violence against women and children, and the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in the Caribbean.

The women, including Reema Carmona, wife of Trinidad and Tobago President Anthony Carmona, ended a two-day forum on Friday, under the theme “Every Caribbean Woman, Every Caribbean Child (ECWECC)”.

Their meeting coincided with the two-day intersessional summit of regional leaders that was also held here.

According to the communique that followed their deliberations, the forum agreed to establish a Caribbean First Ladies/Spouses Network (CARIFLAN/CARISAN) to champion the ECWECC initiative and other activities in keeping with 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Number Five, empowering women, girls and adolescents.

“The First Ladies also agreed to consult among themselves on refining the terms of reference (TOR) and the details for incorporating the network.”

The communique said that the aim of the forum, which was chaired by Guyana’s First Lady, Sandra Granger, was to agree on priorities and strategies for implementing a programme of work to enhance the health and well-being of Caribbean women and children.

Mrs Granger said that the Initiative resulting from discussions of the ECWECC Steering Committee, formed in April 2015, centred on the goals of reducing violence against women and girls, cervical cancer and adolescent pregnancy, as well as eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

It formed the basis of a proposal submitted to the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2016.

She thanked GILEAD Science Inc for its interest in the region and for providing the resources which had made it possible for meeting here.

She urged the forum to produce concrete suggestions for the implementation of a programme of work that would result in the empowerment of women and girls with the support of stakeholders throughout the region.

The forum discussed two papers undertaken by the Planning Institute of Jamaica and the Caricom Secretariat that jointly illustrated by way of data the gaps in adolescent access to sexual and reproductive health and rights; the impact of sexual abuse on health; the social consequences of teenage pregnancies; the legal and social mechanisms for sanctioning and preventing violence against women and girls; and the policies and programmes for treating and preventing women’s health issues such as cervical cancer.

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who presented the report of the forum to the regional leaders, had in his address to the women, said, “We leaders must accelerate our response to meaningfully tackle the problems that severely threaten to undermine our most precious human resources, our women, girls and children—to the development of this region. Indeed, the economic costs of inattention to the priorities of your initiative must be staggering.”

He identified the need for legal sanctions such as those contemplated in the revised legislation in many countries on sexual offences, including rape.

Browne challenged the forum to think beyond legal sanctions and mandates since to yield results they must be reinforced by four pillars—reliable data: coordinated evidence-based policies and programmes; the involvement of men and boys as part of the solution; and promoting evidence-based solutions such as those contemplated in the regional roll-out of the ECWECC Initiative.

He urged the participants to make the Caribbean the first region in the world to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

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IMAGE: Caricom


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